THE BLOG

How Leaving My Job Was Similar to Leaving My Husband

17/03/2014 11:44 GMT | Updated 14/05/2014 10:59 BST

This sounds like a flippant statement but it's not meant to be. Leaving my job to go self employed, and leaving my husband to go it alone as a single parent, were both incredibly important and emotional times in my life. Times filled with fear, doubt, uncertainty, and plenty of tears. And on recent reflection I realised that I'd gone through many of the same thoughts and feelings during each of them.

So here are a few ways I've been drawing parallels:

I wanted to hate him but I didn't

6 months on from our separation we're very much still friends. We don't chat for hours on the phone every day, but then we never did when we were together either. And despite me moving 250 miles away we still see each other every few weeks because he visits to see our children - an arrangement which would be difficult if we weren't comfortable in each other's company.

So I don't hate him now and despite some huge arguments during the dying days of our relationship, I didn't hate him then either. I just knew we weren't meant to be together anymore.

And the same goes for my job. Yes, there were times when I hated it. And at the height of my unhappiness I may have possibly shouted at my manager in a team meeting and then started crying (I might have done this - I'm not saying it definitely happened). But overall it wasn't a horrific job - there were parts of it I even enjoyed. Deciding to leave a job you don't hate is tough, but again, for me, I knew we weren't meant to be together anymore and I had to move on.

Can I do any better or is this it for me?

It's always a gamble isn't it: relying on the dream that there will be something better out there.

When I left my marriage I was hoping that another, better-for-me, relationship would come along at some point in the future. And when I left my job I assumed the same - that I would be able to run my own business, be happier, and make more money than I did when I was employed.

But on both of these assumptions, I had to take a leap of faith. I had to believe that there is better out there and that I deserve to have it. The alternative is to assume that you're only worth what you currently have: that you don't deserve to be in a job or business that suits you better, or a relationship that makes you happy.

(And in case you're wondering, yes you absolutely do deserve better and you should never tell yourself anything different.)

I'll miss him / them

I love some of my ex-colleagues. In fact, speaking as a professional job-quitter (I think I've earned the right to call myself this given the number of jobs I've quit in my life) I can easily say that this has been the hardest part of leaving all of them. No matter how long I'd been in a job (and some were measured in hours or days rather than months or years) there were always people who I liked and knew I'd miss when I was gone.

Some of them I've kept in touch with - I count them among my close friends even though it's been many years since we shared a cubicle wall. But some friendships on the outside are doomed to fail - especially if you're on a high from escaping and your friend is still stuck in there.

And obviously, I knew I would miss my husband. And I did. Some days I still do.

I've put so much time and effort into this

Relationships need to be worked at. So do careers. We put time and effort into both of them, so when they finish it can feel like that time and effort is wasted.

There's something called the 'sunk cost fallacy' which states that we're more likely to continue with something - like a project, job, or relationship - if we've already invested in it, even where continuing isn't the best thing to do. In other words, we act irrationally and want to put more time and effort into something that's already had far too much of it.

Careers are prone to this sunk cost fallacy - especially when you've invested money in study of a certain specialism and then decide to do something else entirely (perfectly demonstrated by my own experience of spending several thousand pounds on law school and then deciding I didn't want to be a lawyer).

And relationships are too - sometimes it can be tempting to coast along in your comfort zone in a relationship that's as comfy as your old slippers because you've invested time in it and you don't want to start over again.

Time or money spent is not necessarily wasted, but it has definitely gone, so don't take it into account when deciding whether to invest more of the same.

Finally, nostalgia.

The good old days. As I looked back over my marriage I saw plenty of good times, but they were memories, not the present. The same went for my job. I'd had a great time there but things had changed and when I came to decide if I was going to leave, I wasn't about to let those good memories cloud my judgment.

Both were difficult decisions as I was completely in control of them. It was my choice to leave my job and start a business, and it was my choice to separate from my husband. Both took plenty of soul searching and going back and forth, and both made me feel like I was changing my mind constantly.

Happily, as I sit here now in my home office I know that both choices were the right ones. For a start, who knew that a couple of years after quitting my job I'd be writing about it on the Huffington Post. And as for any new relationship, well, we'll see....

I'm no relationship expert, but I do have an online course starting next week which is aimed at helping women on maternity leave to reinvent their career. The Career Reinvention Kit is open for registration now.